Despite their upturn in form since Steve Bruce replaced Roberto Di Matteo, Villa travelled to St Andrews’ nine places and six points behind their city rivals.
Consequently, the Blues should go into the clash as slight favourites as they aim to seal a league triumph over their Midlands neighbours for the first time since 2005, when Emile Heskey (below) and Julian Grey netted to seal a 2-0 win.
However, the Rowett will still be without the services of midfield duo Tesche and Caddis on Sunday afternoon, while Jonathan Grounds is also sidelined after accruing five bookings so far this season.
“We are looking pretty healthy, Grounds is suspended, Robert Tesche we don’t think will be back until after the next international break. Paul Caddis (below) out with a shoulder,” Rowett told the Birmingham Mail.
And the former Burton coach, embarking upon his first ‘second city derby’ as Birmingham manager, has admitted that the game is a huge moment in their season as he looks to build the momentum required to lay the foundations for a play-off push.
“It’s a massive game for anyone, I will never ever play this type of game down, it’s about the extra enthusiasm in the fans and the rivalry which I hope doesn’t get too heated.
“You want the players to understand what the derby means to the fans but at the same time you want them to go out and play with a little bit of control in the game and not get too immersed in the passion.”
Have something to tell us about this article?